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Cybercriminals just love Valentine’s Day

Cybercriminals just love Valentine’s Day

Was your Valentine’s Day memorable? Was it everything you had hoped? For the world’s hackers and attackers, it was. Latest data from Mimecast Threat Labs as well as Kaspersky Labs shows that the romantic day was a fruitful and profitable holiday for cybercriminals and in particular those behind a ransomware called GandCrab.

Mimecast found that GandCrab, considered one of the most successful ransomwares of 2018, had been using Valentine-themed lures for weeks running up to 14th February.

These included fake emails offering gifts and special offers on Valentine dinners. Fake e-greetings that contained malicious links and malicious and hacked dating apps and websites.

Meanwhile Kaspersky Labs said there had been a huge spike in Valentine fraud. They reported that the number of attempts to visit fraudulent websites based around Valentine, which were blocked by Kaspersky’s software had doubled in the first half of February. In all they blocked 4.3 million attempts over the two weeks of February.

When you think Valentine’s Day, candy hearts, roses and chocolate are probably the first things that come to mind. Perhaps the last thing would be insidious email attacks, but this year a group of cybercriminals have brought that idea to the forefront.

These holiday events also offer the opportunity for threat actors to harvest a vast amount of information and data that is input into online shopping websites by coming up with fake websites and fake customer surveys that promise to deliver anything from fake vouchers to ‘great deals’ to the victim.

- Joshua Douglas: VP Threat Intelligence, Mimecast Blog Post

It is said love is blind. And, according to research at University College London there is a grain of truth in Shakespeare’s immortal words. They found that feelings of love and romance does actually supress the areas of the brain responsible for critical thought.

This may well account for the 4,555 people who fell victim to romantic fraud in 2018 and subsequently lost an estimated £50.8 million, an annual increase of 27% against 2017.

According to the figures from Action Fraud, the average age of a victim was 50-years-old and 63% were women. And on average, they said, women lose twice as much as men. But they cautioned, these figures may be an underestimate as many victims probably don’t come forward out of feelings of embarrassment.


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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